Tampa, FL – Doctors in the United Kingdom have announced groundbreaking results that could affect how some breast cancer patients are treated.
They combined two existing cancer drugs in an effort to shrink tumors in HER2-positive breast cancer patients. They found that within 11 days the tumors disappeared in 11 percent of those given the combination therapy.
Bobbie Shay Lee is a breast cancer survivor who lives in the Tampa Bay area. She says the results could mean better quality of life for other HER2-positive patients. Lee endured almost two dozen surgeries after diagnosis.
“I was overtreated, terribly overtreated,” said Lee.
HER2-positive is an aggressive form of breast cancer. Doctors say early treatment is key.
“This is so exciting for me. I get chills, not because, I know this is a small study, but the approach that they're taking is noninvasive and less extreme,” said Lee.
In a small clinical trial, doctors gave early stage HER2-positive patients a combination of Herceptin and Tykerb. In the U.S. that combination is given to Stage 4 patients because Tykerb is approved for only advanced stage use.
Dr. Roohi Ismail-Khan, a breast cancer specialist at Moffitt Cancer Center, calls the results of the study promising, but not game changing.
“This is not the answer for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer, but it really makes us think because that means there’s a population of patients or subset of patients that could probably get away from chemotherapy,” said Ismail-Khan.
Ismail-Khan says the next step is finding out why that combination drug therapy worked so quickly in that small group of patients.
The doctors behind this trial in London say they plan to do follow up trials on a larger group of patients.
“Helping people survive. That’s what matters,” said Lee.